The kids wanted to have “Movie Night” on Saturday, so we rented a couple of films and tucked ourselves up on the couch. Popcorn and jelly beans were on the menu, as we’d bought a big bag of jelly beans on Friday from one of the bulk bins in the supermarket. Rebecca took charge of the bag, until I discovered her munching away merrily on them and offering them to random strangers. They were confiscated amid screaming protests and got to the checkout more or less intact.
The phone rang about ten minutes into the film, so I got up to answer it and saw the Irish number. It was Angela, ringing me on her mobile from Nuala’s house, where most of the women had gathered for takeaway and copious amounts of alcohol. This descent upon a house with food and drink has been a fairly regular thing for last few years, and they are the nights that will always stay with me. I was invariably the driver, so I have great memories of driving home a gang of shrieking tipsy women, and watching them sashay to their front doors with drunken aplomb.
Saturday night was their pre-Christmas gathering. I was on speaker, so I chatted to them all, caught up on the gossip and filled them in on the weather over here. No matter where in the world an Irish person is, it always come down to the rain or the lack of it. I think the Canadians see us as weather-obsessed, as it’s inherent in us to start every single conversation with an observation on the day. “Grand day, isn’t it?” Instant confusion, as they have no idea what we mean by “grand”. “Lovely day/cold day/lovely sunshine/more snow eh?”
Anyway, once the news and craic had been exchanged, I just became part of the furniture, and the conversation digressed into the state of their windows. It was almost a competition to see who had the dirtiest set. I sat in my basement listening to them, and thought how wonderful it is to be part of a group of women that could cover every known topic within the span of an evening.
When we said our goodbyes and the call finished, I was bereft. I stood over the pot of popcorn in my kitchen, and wondered how I get through the days without them all. I made the best friends of my life in Bree. We were all at the married and parenting stages of our lives, and we came together into a support network of friendship, love and trust, and the knowledge that we could pick up the phone at any time if we needed anything at all. We laughed ourselves sick and cried on each other’s shoulders, and leaving them all in August was unbearable. I miss them every day. I don’t miss the rain at all though.
On Sunday we headed over the to University of Saskatoon to the Natural Science Department. Our aspiring palaeontologist, Nicholas, was mad to see the dinosaur skeletons. The day was so cold that the inside of our noses froze during the walk from the car park to the building. It feels horrible. Really weird. We made it in without frostbite and were greeted by full-size replicas of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Mausosaurus, a Stegosaurus and a Pterodon.
The kids were delighted. Unfortunately, those who could read burst Nicholas’ bubble by telling him that the skeletons weren’t real, so he was less than impressed. We saw tanks of beautiful fish, a black rat snake (yuk), a bullfrog and some hilarious Chilean hamster-y things, which were very entertaining. There were huge cases full of different rocks and minerals, and big charts explaining earthquakes and volcanoes.
The walk back to the car was just as cold, but the University is fabulous. The buildings are all different, and built of beautiful stone.
Nicholas was still put out about the dinosaurs, but we have promised him a trip to the Badlands of Alberta, which is one of the richest sources of dinosaur bones in the world. They have a Dinosaur Provincial Park, where we can go on a Fossil Safari, and an incredible museum, called the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
So next summer, we might hire a super-sized RV and head off to Alberta to discover a new species of dinosaur, which Nicholas has promised to call the Mammyosaurus.